When I walked into Chrystal Henry’s warehouse I was really worried about how I would keep this interview on track. Boxes and boxes of beautiful children’s clothing was being unpacked everywhere. I’d admired her clothing for a long time, but this was something else! There was some serious designer talent here.
Chrystal operates her wholesale business, Love Henry, out of a shed on her family’s Goondiwindi cotton property. She’s been sewing and designing from a very young age, using offcuts from her mother’s creations as inspiration.
With only the self-taught basics under her belt, she was able to create clothing for her friends’ formals, weddings and other special occasions. She was working in retail, which helped her learn about sales, fabric and wholesale ordering and processes. When she realised sewing was becoming more than a hobby, she completed courses at Bogabilla Tafe and Griffith University.
“When I had our first daughter Georgia, I started sewing things for her, and people were always asking me to make some for their kids,” she said.
“I started selling some at the Gold Coast markets, but I would quickly sell out, so I got a local sewing lady to help me. I remember contacting an agent and asking her to represent me. She asked if I could do a hundred sizes per style, and I said no, I wouldn’t be able to do that. She said until you can service the volume I can sell for you, I can’t help.”
By this stage Chrystal was pregnant with her second daughter and couldn’t commit to the volume of work herself and so decided to go offshore, scouting potential manufacturers in China that she met through an Australian Government tradeshow in Melbourne.
“We had a really good relationship from the start,” she said.
“It was so family run and that’s what I wanted.”
They have been very loyal to eachother and had faith in the ability of Crystal’s business to grow. She’s a self-confessed dreamer, but knows what she wants and loves to set goals, though doesn’t limit herself to those she sets.
While her Dad has always been in her corner in terms of inspiration and support, Chrystal says as the business grows, she turns often to the professionals around her, such as her accountant and lawyer for business advice.
“I don’t like to ask a lot from other people,” she says.
“I like to focus on the direction I’m heading. I feel that if you look around at what other people are doing too much you lose the direction and focus of what you want to do. So if you want to be different to everyone else, there’s no point looking around and seeing what everyone else is doing, because sometimes it can deter from what you want to do.
“If I do want some advice or to bounce ideas around, I go to my Dad, eventhough we butt heads some of the time because we are so similar.
While the business development stage was done near the Gold Coast, on the family’s mushroom farm, moving back to Goondiwindi was a family choice more than a business decision.
She’s always been a stay at home mum and made the business work around the commitments with her three daughters. She doesn’t gloss over the struggle that balance can be, but she said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“At that stage I could do it from anywhere in the world as we weren’t bricks and mortar and I wanted to come home,” she said.
“My biggest hurdle has been internet. We only have WiFi at the farm, not broadband and the limit of 15GB a month doesn’t get you very far. “
Listen to our full conversation here LINK TO THE PODCAST